- Strong acceleration
- Comfortable and quiet ride
- Spacious cabin has an upscale ambience
- Long warranty
- Below-average fuel economy
- No rearview camera or parking sensors available
- Middling crash-test scores
Shopping for a small, affordable commuter car is more fun than it used to be. Do you want a subcompact hatchback that can haul lots of gear? Or perhaps you'd rather have one with a really nice interior and lots of amenities. Or maybe you just want to maximize your fuel economy. There's now a pint-size sedan or hatchback to satisfy nearly every taste. Within the traditional subcompact class, the 2016 Hyundai Accent is a fine option for buyers who want a little of everything.
Though there's nothing flashy about the 2016 Accent, it's a handsome car in both the sedan and hatchback body styles. It's also the sort of car that will impress you with its ability to endure the daily grind with minimal fuss. For starters, it's one of the quicker cars in this class, and that's an advantage you'll appreciate every time you accelerate up to highway speeds. Both the automatic and manual transmissions work well, so deciding between them is a matter of preference. What's more, the Accent rides well on the highway and its cabin stays quiet. So even if your commute is longer, you won't have regrets about choosing this Hyundai over a larger, more expensive car. Passenger space is also generous for this class, and transporting a couple of adults in the backseat on occasion is no problem.
The biggest downside to the Hyundai Accent is fuel economy. Not only are its EPA fuel economy estimates lower than those of most subcompact rivals (not to mention some compact cars), we've found it difficult to match these numbers in real-world driving. Rearward visibility is also challenging on the hatchback version, and no rearview camera is offered. Finally, desirable features like a keyless ignition, navigation system, smartphone integration and even a sunroof are simply not available.
Although the 2016 Hyundai Accent is one of our top recommended cars in this class, you'll likely want to check out some of the competition before making up your mind. The Honda Fit is another of our favorites, thanks to its abundant cargo space, reconfigurable rear seats and impressive fuel economy. If you're looking for a sportier driving experience, you'll want to try the Ford Fiesta, which also has an above-average interior and many available tech features. The newcomer Scion iA is another alternative if premium amenities are a must, and its EPA ratings are near the top of the class. You could also look at the Accent's cousin, the Kia Rio. It's essentially the same car in a different wrapper, but offers a few more optional features, including navigation and a rearview camera.
On the other hand, if you're not set on having a particular feature or squeezing every last mile out of a gallon of fuel, the 2016 Accent offers compelling value, and Hyundai backs it up with a long warranty.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
For 2016, the Hyundai Accent receives minimal changes. The base GLS sedan and GS hatchback trim levels have collectively been renamed the SE. Besides that, a leather-wrapped steering wheel is now a package option on the base sedan, while a sunroof is no longer available on the Sport hatchback.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2016 Hyundai Accent is offered as a small four-door sedan or a four-door hatchback, both of which seat five. The sedan is available only in base SE trim, while the hatchback comes both in SE and fancier Sport versions.
The SE sedan comes equipped with 14-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, a driver-seat armrest, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB and auxiliary audio inputs. The SE hatchback adds heated outside mirrors (with a driver's blind-spot viewer), a rear windshield wiper and cloth door trim; automatic-transmission versions also have cruise control.
Two options packages are available for automatic-transmission-equipped SE sedans. The Popular package adds heated mirrors, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a center console storage box with a sliding armrest. The Style package can be purchased only in combination with the Popular package and adds projector-beam headlights with LED accents, foglights, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes (instead of drum brakes), upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and an auto-up driver's window.
The Sport hatchback adds a rear spoiler and all the equipment from the Popular and Style packages.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Although the Hyundai Accent is grouped in the subcompact class, it is roomier than the norm, with interior dimensions that place it in the EPA's "compact" class. The spacious rear seat offers enough headroom and legroom to allow even 6-footers to get comfortable in the outboard positions.
Up front, the well-shaped seats are roomy and supportive, and overall, the Accent feels upscale for a car in this class. The cabin has a friendly ambience, thanks to its solid build quality, patterned upholstery, stylish dash design and tasteful materials. One of the few knocks in here is the lack of technology features. Bluetooth is available in most versions, but there's no touchscreen interface or smartphone integration features.
Cargo space is above class averages, with the sedan offering a relatively large trunk with 13.7 cubic feet of capacity. The hatchback, meanwhile, provides 21.2 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up and a generous 47.5 cubic feet when they're folded down.
Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Hyundai Accent includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. The SE models come with front disc and rear drum brakes, while the Sport hatchback has standard four-wheel disc brakes. Rear disc brakes are optional on the SE sedan but not on the SE hatch.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Accent sedan with the optional rear disc brakes came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet. An Accent hatchback (also with rear disc brakes) came to a stop in 124 feet. Both are average distances for the segment.
In government crash testing, the Accent received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and four stars for side-impact protection (although the government noted an increased risk of spinal injury for rear passengers involved in side-impact crashes). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Accent the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and roof-strength tests and the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the side-impact test. In the small-overlap frontal crash test, the Accent earned the lowest rating of "Poor." Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Every 2016 Hyundai Accent is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 137 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. Buyers have a choice between a six-speed manual transmission and a six-speed automatic, both of which drive the car's front wheels. In Edmunds performance testing, an Accent sedan with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds, while an automatic-equipped hatchback did it in 9.3 seconds. Both are pretty quick times for a subcompact.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy with the automatic transmission is 30 mpg combined (26 city/37 highway), and 31 mpg combined (27 city/38 highway) with the manual. These numbers aren't terribly impressive for a subcompact, and we've had a hard time matching them in real-world testing.
Certainly the most striking thing about driving a 2016 Hyundai Accent is its relative quickness compared with other cars in the subcompact class. Its 1.6-liter engine responds energetically when you hit the gas pedal, and there's plenty of power on tap for relaxed highway merging and passing maneuvers. Under hard acceleration, the engine remains smooth but can get rather noisy. Both the manual and automatic transmissions make good use of the engine's resources, but unless you're particularly fond of manual transmissions, it's hard to beat the convenience of the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic.
On the road, the Accent provides a quiet, comfortable ride and decent handling. Although competitors such as the Ford Fiesta have sportier steering and handling, the Hyundai feels composed in most normal driving situations and is well suited for daily commutes.
With handsome styling, above-average performance and solid build quality, the 2016 Hyundai Accent represents a strong choice for a small sedan or hatchback in the subcompact-car class.